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The X factor: Compelling consumers to shop

HIGH POINT - Imagine you're a consumer who is purchasing furniture and ask yourself a few questions. Why are you buying? Is it because your current furniture is worn or are you just ready for something new? Where will you start your product search?
     According to Furniture/Today and HGTV's Consumer Views Survey, 41% of consumers buy new upholstery because they are redecorating. Additionally, 23% make a purchase because their furniture no longer "fits my taste."
     Those percentages underscore the importance of the style factor in furniture sales, and while price plays a role in the final decision, it is clearly not what drives the majority of transactions. Yes, furniture is purchased for function, but the specific furniture purchased is often also tied to the aesthetic enjoyment it brings to the surroundings.
     Retailers understand that competition for consumer dollars is fierce.
     Lifestyle stores often build the "X factor" into their displays, but what about the furniture? Are there pieces that compel consumers to shop in the same way Apple's latest version of the iPhone does? What creates furniture lust?
     In another survey conducted by Furniture/Today and Apartment Therapy, 46% of the Millennial respondents (ages 18 to 31) said they are continuously shopping for new furniture and 91% of the entire group surveyed said they wanted pieces that are not part of a set.
     That leaves a lot of room for creative product interpretation, and this "sizzle" or "X factor" is what can prompt consumers to think about buying furniture long before necessary. That certain something, that one-of-a-kind panache, can encompass a variety of styles, and it was evident in showrooms at every price point at October's High Point Market.
     And while there was no end to the amount of beautiful product on display in every style category, the ones pictured here are some of my personal favorites. Space doesn't allow for every noteworthy sofa or chair to be featured, but these particular products made an impression, and I think they will create a "gotta have it" feeling from consumers the minute they hit the retail floor.
     Sofas can either be a neutral anchor in a room or the style element that dictates the selection of every other piece of furniture and fabric. At market, there were examples of both via understated classics, reinterpretations of mid century modern designs and several introductions that featured an extraordinary juxtaposition of materials.
     Additionally, the customization programs that many manufacturers now offer add extra product value for retailers and address the consumer's desire for personalized, eclectic upholstery.
     Sofas shown on these pages include both neutral and vibrant fabrics, but all have a distinctive twist.
     Consumers use chairs to update their décor, mixing styles for the eclectic look that has replaced a room filled with matching pieces. And since many consumers will add a chair to their existing décor before replacing a sofa, the category is offering carte blanche creative opportunities for merchandisers who will take a design risk on a smaller scale.
     There were many chairs at market that could inspire an unplanned purchase by offering the consumer flexible design that can coordinate with existing furnishings.

Taylor King’s Raina chair in graphite Romantic Gem fabric ($1,995) nods to contemporary with pewter nail head trim, but works with traditional and transitional décor as well.
Taylor King’s
CR Laine’sCR Laine’s Ellsworth sofa in Bella Cocoa ($2,840 MSRP) has a geometric nail head design along the base that shows how edgy and classic can beautifully coexist.
The Latour chair ($1,195), also from Taylor King, with Disco fabric from JF Fabric’s Croc and-Roll collection, captures attention with shimmer reminiscent of holiday jewelry — furniture drama at its best.
The Latour
The Mandarin
The Mandarin Bright fabric on Norwalk’s Penelope chair ($1,399) adds a strong color focal point that complements a variety of neutrals.
The white-bright combination of Kim Samela’s Scarlett sofa ($3,499) creates upholstery eye candy anchored by versatile function. The profile has a bit of a traditional formality, but the fabric choice adds whimsy.
The white-bright
Movement in fabric adds a custom flavor to upholstery, and HGTV Home’s accent chair can be used anywhere, from bedroom to family room and kitchen.
The Classic Cottage Collage sofa ($2,300) by Kincaid has four neutral fabric patterns on one piece. The combination creates relaxed style, even though the profile of the piece leans toward formal.
The Classic
Butterscotch leather is presented with an unusually sleek profile in Contempo’s Theo sofa — ideal for urban settings with limited square footage as well as open, modern spaces.
Thomasville’s Mackenzie sofa ($2,419) is covered with a neutral bodycloth accented by a geometric pattern on the sides and back. The simple lines enable consumers to mix this piece with other styles, but the geometric detail adds the sizzle.
The turquoise
The turquoise leather on Drexel Heritage’s Belle Maison chair ($2,500) gives the piece an edge uncommon for the style.
Bradington-Young’s Barth sofa ($3,899-$4,499) in Brilliant Blue is a gorgeous interpretation of leather color. This is the type of piece that encourages a “gotta have that” reaction because it is classic, trendy and sensuous at the same time.
The Eaton
The Eaton Flannel sectional by Hooker is streamlined — no small feat for a sectional — and is covered in a crisp bodycloth that showcases why gray is now a popular neutral with consumers. The accent mix-and-match potential is unlimited.

Decor-Rest's Maxwell chair in Postcard Sand ($839) shows how fun can be added to a room without overwhelming the space.

Emerald’s Rayanna sofa ($799) is urban-scale and modern at a budget friendly price.
Parker Southern’s Mosaic chair ($2,199) has teal leather on the top, wavy stripe fabric on the seat and a mosaic glass tile inset around the base. The color mix and materials combination is spectacular.
Parker Southern’s
Della Robbia
Della Robbia shows a color trend with long term leather appeal in the Omari three-piece sectional ($9,720). Leather is a dream sofa purchase for some consumers, and this example inspires.
Gamma’s Trench chair in nubuck leather ($4,365) proves that neutral doesn’t equate with nondescript. The side stitching and slender legs combined with nubuck are distinguishing details.

Massoud's Brook Copper sofa ($5,499) combines leather with fabric and hair-on-hide in a masterful mix of textures.

Rachlin’s Coronado-Skipper Sky ($1,999) sofa shows more wood than the others on this list, but the pale blue fabric softens the look and gives the piece an unusual versatility equally suited for formal and casual settings.
Tomasella Gruppo’s Flower chair is almost psychedelic, but the piece represents an increasing appreciation for 1970s fabric patterns. Bold and vibrant, the chair is a focal point and style statement.
Dorothy Draper is a design icon and CR Laine obtained the exclusive use of her Brazilliance fabric — featuring bright green, oversized leaves — for the Copley chair with Brazilliance Palm fabric ($1,525).
The YOLO program introduced by Best Home Furnishings offers a variety of frames, fabrics and price points. What helps it stand out are the substantial number of options, as well as the target demographic and marketing materials that accompany the program.

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